Patellofemoral Knee Pain – Kneecap Pain

NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource

The patella, also called the kneecap, floats within a grove formed at the end of the femur (thigh bone). Patellofemoral pain is a common term used when pain is experienced under or around the kneecap. Usually pain develops over time and is usually experienced when moving the knee from a bent to straight position or with weight-bearing activities such as running, squatting, going up/down stairs, and/or kneeling (the patella does not track properly within the grove). This injury has the potential to become serious. If the athlete experiences pain around the kneecap, do not ignore it. Send him or her to see a Certified Athletic Trainer or medical specialist.

Prevention: As a coach or parent, there are several preventative measures you can take to limit the onset of patellofemoral knee pain:

  1. Make sure the athletes wear appropriate shoes for the sport.

  2. Make sure athletic shoes have good arch support.

  3. If your athletes run for conditioning, vary their routes so they are not always running on the same side of a sloped road or change directions if running on a track.

  4. Include an appropriate leg strengthening program in the weight room, enhancing both the quadriceps (thigh muscles) and hamstrings.

  5. Include a warm-up and cool-down period during practice, with flexibility exercises as part of the routine, especially during cool-down (quadriceps; hamstring; hip flexors; calf).

  6. Be firm on proper running and jumping techniques.

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